The blood in my mouth is not my own. The dry steel tang of iron was coughed and spluttered into mine by a three year old with brown tousled hair as he sat in his restrainer seat. Thank goodness for those seats. His mouth was clogged with blood and he was spitting it everywhere. He was crying, a good sign. And there was no blood coming from his ears. Another good sign as I ran through an almost subconscious checklist. A double check of his mouth and there was nothing frothing. Another good sign. His eyes are a hazel brown. Beautiful and luminous. I slid my hand behind his head and cupped it, initially worried about a broken neck – his head was strangely dropped to his right – but it seems okay so I feel better about the prognosis. He looks at me as I talk to him, making those soothing sounds that seem to work with mad dogs and distressed kids. He stops to listen and watches my face before crying again. He coughs more blood and I watch the dark clots pool at his mouth. Something is not quite right. I wonder if his jaw is broken. He has dark bruising around his neck, perhaps from the restraints. I cup my other hand over his head and then realise there is trouble out of sight. He has taken a bad knock to the left of his head. Now I am worried. The first policeman arrives and comes over to peer into this smashed up little car and I tell him the first ambulance driver to get here needs to have a look at this kid. As I talk the boy clutches my hand and I clutch it back. There is more to all of this story but right now this precious little life is on his way to Westmead Childrens Hospital. The prognosis as I handed him out through the window of the car and he relaxed his grip on my hand is grim and I and others worry as he starts to want to slip into unconsciousness. After ten minutes those eyes were not quite so luminous and not quite so searching of my face as I talked to him. I hear later that there was a murmur of relief from the sidewalk crowd as his body appeared out of the wreck. I hate to say it but there was no relief from those of us handling him. There still isn’t – its two and half hours after the event and I am starting to feel a bit emotional about him.
Now I’m inextricably linked to the life of a kid whose name I don’t know. Blood does that you know. It makes me realise, in case I needed reminding, how quickly we can lose our lives. Off to the shops with Mum one minute, in an ambulance in a critical condition the next. But it makes me doubly appreciate that I am linked by blood to someone who does know my name and whose work means my hope is an eternal one. Carpe Diem is trite but true. Apprehende Deum is more to the point when I can still smell the blood of this boy on my hands.
A more fulsome impression written later that night at this Post: Knot in My Stomach
Also Aftermath – reflections three weeks after the accident
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